SAAB AIRCRAFT has landed significant orders for its 340B Plus turboprop from two of the largest regional operators in the USA. In addition, the Swedish manufacturer has almost completed a deal to sell a large number of Saab 2000s to one of the carriers.

The biggest single order comes from long time Saab 340 operator, American Eagle, which is buying 25 additional aircraft to add to its fleet of 116 Saab 340A and B variants, already in service. The deal covers 25 of the 50 options held by American Eagle for the aircraft.

Of more long-term significance for the manufacturer is the news from sources at the US carrier that it is close to sealing a deal to purchase a minimum of 15 53-seat Saab 2000s. Negotiations are expected to be completed in the next few weeks. American Eagle has held options on 40 of the aircraft for some time.

It is understood that the new aircraft are being acquired for growth reasons, and the move does not signal American Eagle's intention to start replacing any of its ATR fleet in the wake of the ATR 72 crash in 1994, which resulted in a temporary grounding of the aircraft.

Atlanta-based Express Airlines 1 is also adding to its Saab 340 fleet with an order for ten new aircraft, to boost the services it offers to about 40 cities in 15 states as a Northwest Airlink carrier.

Saab declines to comment on the orders, beyond pointing out, that American Eagle option position on the 340 and 2000, were public knowledge.

The Saab 2000 deal in particular will be especially welcome for the Swedish company, which has not won a single order of the type this year. The firm-order book stands at 39 aircraft, of which 15 have been delivered - including the first aircraft for French Carrier Regional Airlines and Air Marshall Islands.

The Saab 340 backlog stands at 82, and total firm orders for the aircraft are now 445.

Source: Flight International